Development of refrigerant-free, energy-efficient electrocaloric heat pumps

May 07, 2020

© Fraunhofer IPM
In the “ElKaWe” lighthouse project, six Fraunhofer Institutes are working on the development of electrocalorific heat pumps for heating and cooling.

Heat pumps play a decisive role in the energy  transition in Germany: Sustainably generated  electricity provides heat in winter  and a good climate in summer. Nowadays,  heat pumps work almost exclusively on the  basis of compressor technology. However,  this technology requires harmful refrigerants,  the use of which will be restricted even further  by law in the future. In the Fraunhofer  lighthouse project ElKaWe, six Fraunhofer  Institutes are developing highly efficient  electrocaloric heat pumps that operate with  nonhazardous fluids such as water.

The materials and components of the solidstate  heat pumps must be stable over the  long term, sufficiently available, cost-effective  and nonhazardous in every respect.  Fraunhofer IKTS has extensive experience with ceramic electrocaloric materials.  Fraunhofer IAP and Fraunhofer LBF contribute  their expertise in the development of  polymer materials. Fraunhofer FEP develops  special coatings to insulate and functionalize  components. In addition to the functional  polymers, Fraunhofer LBF will also investigate  the service life and reliability of the  materials and systems. Fraunhofer IAF will  develop the electrical control for the heat  pumps. Fraunhofer IPM ensures rapid heat  dissipation by means of a new patented system  approach based on heat pipes in combination  with thermal diodes, thus creating  the conditions for particularly efficient heat  pumps. 

More information about the project can be found at